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Olivia Colman, Brutal Murders and a Love Story

Something strange happens at the end HBO series Landscapers, about a British husband and wife convicted of murder and sentenced to 25 years in prison: You can swoon. Never has the story of a couple killing their parents-in-law so romantic.

I say romantic, not romanticize. ONE Bonnie and Clyde-esque portrayals of how crime is an aphrodisiac has certainly been done before, and acts of violence have certainly been revered in popular culture – in fact, hardly ever. cease.

But there’s something entirely new about the approach that writer-director Ed Sinclair takes when telling the story of Susan and Christopher Edwards, an ordinary, depraved fairy-tale couple who murder together. Susan’s parents and later buried the body in the back garden. Landscapers subject to all expectations and tropes when it comes to what has become the most popular genre on television: true crime and murder mysteries.

Playing with Hollywood form, nostalgia, and homage, Sinclair crack unfolds a character study that breaks the tenets of TV obsession with crime stories. Despite the gloom of the subject and the black comedy notes throughout, he makes for a surprisingly beautiful and poetic series. In a strange way, it might be the greatest love story of the year.

(Alert: Front spoilers.)

The final night of Monday night’s series shouldn’t have been so surprising. Not only is Susan and Christopher’s story searchable on Google, but the title tag at the beginning of each episode “ruins,” so to speak, their fate. “In 2014 Susan and Christopher Edwards were found guilty of murder and sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in prison,” it wrote. “To this day, they still maintain their chastity.”

The finale revolves around their trial, with counselors defending the couple and arguing that they teamed up to shoot and kill William and Patricia Wycherley in retaliation for their taking away part of their assets. Susan’s inheritance. But we knew from the very first moments of the first episode that they would be found guilty.

The story’s already unbelievable twists and turns are certainly enough to provide a four-episode grip, with each twist, turn, and reveal being as gruesome and devastating as you might expect. It’s the experimental nature of that narrative — at the same time whimsical, inventive, and gritty — that built the final episode into its thrilling, unusual climax. Once again, we know Susan and Christopher have been found guilty. However, thanks to Sinclair’s pioneering storytelling, we see them go into the sunset, much like the classic Hollywood movie stars whom the series characters idolize.

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Despite every opportunity to break and betray each other, this version of Susan and Christopher (played by Olivia Colman and David Thewlis) remains staunchly loyal, both to their partner and to their narrative of what went wrong. happen. It requires a somewhat odd degree of erasure to do so, but when you see them condemned together as a couple, it’s a moving reminder of how lovers became one. . The ride to the sunset was perhaps a series of fantasies, wish fulfillment, or an interpretation of what was really going on: Like everything else in their lives, they entered the phase together. this next, as well as despair.

Throughout the series, Susan craves escapism from reality. She achieved it by turning to acting: her obsession with Old Hollywood destroyed her life and when she became addicted to buying cinematic artifacts, autographs and paraphernalia, ruined their finances. . So it’s a clever trick so that Susan and Christopher’s story plays out in a cinematic homage stylized with classic genres.

Given the startling nature of their crimes, a straightforward narrative would be captivating enough. Capturing Susan’s cinematic obsession this way doesn’t just open things up visually. (For example, Monday’s finale, which used a classic Western motif to dramatize how Susan and Christopher were accused of hiding bodies, and the trial was filmed like a black-and-white play in a courtroom. .) It also adds a certain insight into both her and Christopher’s Psycho. There is an opinion that, in order to survive the enormity of what they have done, perhaps they must create a romanticized world of shared delusion. Perhaps their lives are so ordinary and in many ways painful that the only way to thrive is to dream in the cinematic language. We spent the whole series trying to decipher if Susan and Christopher were telling the truth. Then these sequences are a provocative gambit. Maybe the truth isn’t as important as a good story.

“Maybe the truth isn’t as important as a good story.”

All of this only works because Colman and Thewlis are so involved with these characters and their emotions that they can create the absurd. In Colman’s performance, you feel Susan’s desperation to stay in her flight – a cinematic world of black-and-white heroes, villains and happy endings – and the devastation of her every time she feels the weight of reality again.

Thewlis matches that with Christopher’s assurance of devotion. “I never felt like I had to leave the real world behind to be with you,” he said. “If anything, Susan, you are what makes the world feel real to me.” It’s so beautiful. It’s romantic. But again, is it true?

The break in traditional form makes for an intriguing deconstruction of the question about how these “did-do it?” regular series. Not only did we get swept up in deep genre-setting pieces, but the show regularly broke the fourth wall.

In particular, Monday’s finale does just that. We see the hair and makeup room, where Colman’s wigs are waiting on top of the mannequin. We see Colman enter the set to begin filming, cameras and lights placed in front of her. In the sequence of the series as investigators present their version of events, proving Susan and Christopher’s obvious lie, the actors walk from one setting to another, interacting as actors and not as characters as they prepare to play out situations.

There was a moment in the finale when, in a work of fantasy, Thewlis as Christopher, a pioneer cowboy took off the wig he was wearing, adding another meta level of alternate reality. position. Especially when it comes to real crime, where people are accused and asked to defend themselves, it begs the question of what percentage of what you see and are being told is real, and what percentage of it is effective.

It reminds us of the narrator’s role in these types of stories. They can make audiences see what they want them to see, believe what they want them to believe, and form opinions about people — about facts — based on how they choose to represent events: tone , style, point of view.

And then there’s the title tag that pops up in each episode, reminding us not only that Edwards has been convicted, but that they still maintain their innocence. While certainly sympathetic to its protagonists, Landscapers did not respond to the question of whether Susan and Christopher had actually committed the crime in any definitive way. But in terms of this kind of narrative being told on television, it makes a great point about how and how the people who are telling it can be manipulated and how a story resembles their own.

It’s all just a four-episode series that’s certainly not perfect, but possibly something even more valuable: ultimately new and exciting.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-landscapers-finale-olivia-colman-brutal-murders-and-a-love-story?source=articles&via=rss Olivia Colman, Brutal Murders and a Love Story

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